have made their reputations in the United States, only to be drawn away in their prime. Countries including Australia, Canada, China, and Germany have hired excellent researchers in communications with generous research funding. This trend, if it accelerates, could have a profound impact.

China. When observing statistics of prestigious optical communications journals, it is undeniable that the quantity of research from China is growing rapidly. Looking at “optical communication” in the Scopus database, there are 15,003 journal publications from 1969 to 2012 from 21 common optical communications journals;116 in total, the United States represents 3,909 of those, and China, 1,303. However, since 2000 the U.S. scientists have published 42 percent of their work, or 1,642 publications, whereas Chinese scientists have published 85 percent of their work, or 1,108 publications. Most of the Chinese publications have appeared since 2000. Moreover, the quality gap, according to rejection ratio statistics, is narrowing. Using the number of citations that a paper receives as a metric of quality also points to China’s gaining on the United States. A comparison between the two countries with respect to publications related to the three keywords (Optics, Photonics, and Communication) in the Scopus database, using the highest-cited papers, gives the following results: currently there are 2.3 citations of a U.S. paper for each citation that a Chinese paper receives; however, 5 years ago this number was 2.8, or 16 percent higher.117 Furthermore, China is aggressively funding research in optical communications and has a foothold as home to some of the world’s largest communications companies. China is poised to make great strides in the coming decade.


In spite of great progress in optical communications over the last three decades, the optics and photonics community faces a great challenge if optical communications networks are to continue to satisfy the insatiable global demand for information


116 The selected journals were these: Optics Communications, IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, Optics Express, Journal of Lightwave Technology, Optical Engineering, Microwave and Optical Technology Letters, Journal of Optical Communications, Physical Review A Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics, Optics Letters, Photonic Network Communications, Applied Optics, Applied Physics Letters, Journal of the Optical Society of America B Optical Physics, Fiber and Integrated Optics, Optical and Quantum Electronics, Proceedings of SPIE the International Society for Optical Engineering, IEEE Transactions on Communications, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, IEEE Proceedings Optoelectronics, Journal of Optical Networking, and Photonics Spectra.

117 Data from SciVerse Scopus, www.scopus.com. Data derived using the top 25 papers and averaging over 5-year periods. Accessed March 21, 2012.

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